By MELISSA KEOGH
Well-known Renmark man Richard Fewster is gearing up to showcase what he predicts will be one of the best Royal Adelaide Shows yet.
As president of the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia, Mr Fewster has the reins for the show’s 175th milestone in September.
“It’s been a really busy year – I travel to Adelaide at least once a week for show-related things,” he said.
“I’ve been president for four years, but life experience has made it easier.”
Life experience is a concept Mr Fewster is more than familiar with, as his resume stretches over a detailed three-pages.
Currently, some may know Mr Fewster as Senator Anne Ruston’s ‘other half’, with the couple purchasing Ruston’s Rose Garden in 2002.
Mr Fewster is also a trained journalist, covering agriculture, politics and general reporting for the The Advertiser and The Chronicle.
Despite his long history with the Royal Adelaide Show, Mr Fewster said his first recollection of Adelaide’s most anticipated yearly event remained vague.
“I just have a memory of going to the show and watching this machine make nuts and bolts,” he said.
“I was probably four years old, and I stood there and was fascinated by it.
“But it wasn’t until I became a journalist that I really became involved with the show.
“I was fully occupied from 7am to midnight every day – it was full on.”
Fast forward several decades later and it’s hard to believe when standing amid fairy floss stands that the Royal Adelaide Show first began with produce and leather exhibits.
This year the show – which is attended by scores of Riverland families – will reflect
on its genesis in a dusty Fordham’s Hotel on Grenfell Street in 1839.
Mr Fewster said the show’s agricultural roots still remain today, with over 32,000 competitive sheep, cattle, goats, cooking, dog, pig and cat entries expected.
“While the show has succeeded, it’s also stayed relevant in terms of agriculture, so it hasn’t lost its focus,” he said.
“It’s still a platform for people to be able to judge livestock, but it’s also kept up with new technology.”
Mr Fewster said the Riverland was becoming increasingly well-represented at the show, especially in sectors such as food, wine and tourism.
“We have 500,000 people come through our gate at show time,” he said.
“People walk up to you and you can talk about your product and engage them rather than just posting them a brochure.
“What a great opportunity to show them what we’ve been producing.”
Due to the rise of technology, Mr Fewster admits the Royal Adelaide Show was susceptible to change.
“We’ve seen all the revolutions in agriculture – the tractor taking over the horse, the harvester taking over the hand harvesting props,” he said.
“It’s not just about how you look at an animal any more, they scan them, we can record their milk performance, and their fat cover.
“But the agricultural factor is always there.”
By MELISSA KEOGH